Tips for Writing Humor

January 23, 2018

This is the first month of a new year and with so many issues surrounding us, it seems like a good idea to stop a moment and take some time to nurture your sense of humor. Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Pay attention to what makes you laugh. Look for patterns of things you find funny.
  • Think about the people who make you laugh, then bring those people more into your life when possible.
  • Watch comedians on television or at comedy clubs and analyze what works, what doesn’t, and why. You may take it a step further and give some thought to how you’d make what they’re doing better.
  • Bring humor into your surroundings with cartoons on your bulletin board, artwork that makes you smile, a framed slogan, or whatever you have that you find humorous when you see it.
  • Enlist the help of family and friends by experimenting with humor with them. Be careful, however, that you remember these relationships are precious and you don’t want to do anything to damage them with your humor tests.
  • Remember that humor is subjective. What one person finds funny, the next person may not. Thus humor is about perspective and perception. What you find humorous says something about you that you may or may not want revealed about yourself.
  • Look at a subject you’re considering for humor writing with new eyes. By that I mean you’ll want to find ways to come at the  subject matter from a new angle to keep your humor unique to you. Let others write about the trite and tired old jokes. Your humor should be freshly yours.
  • Brainstorm top ten lists to help you make unexpected combinations. For example, what are the top ten rejected flavors for new ice cream products? What are the top ten things you don’t expect a job applicant to say during a job interview?

When I taught my college writing classes, I told students humor is the most difficult thing to write because it’s subjective and each reader reacts to humor based on his or her own life experiences and perceptions. On the other hand, most people are less resistant to paying to be amused than they are to  paying to be educated, so why not give yourself permission to write something humorous? Happy writing!


Some One-liners for Tax Day

April 15, 2013

Today is April 15, and I found some one-liners that may bring a smile on this not-funny day.

  • A real friend will take you to lunch whether you’re tax deductible or not.
  • April 15 reminds us that some days are more taxing than others.
  • All big problems started out small.
  • Accountants who have all the answers made some of them up.
  • A lot of long stories would be shorter if they were more truthful.
  • When all is said and done, the meeting is over.
  • It’s amazing how long some people can talk without mentioning what they’re talking about.

I realize I’m deviating from my writing/publishing/editing theme, but the list above does make a writing point. When writing humor, remember that humor is subjective and has only one opportunity to be funny. If your reader doesn’t get it the first time, it won’t be funny if read a second time or if someone explains why it’s funny.

While poetry is the hardest writing to sell, humor is the hardest writing to write successfully. I think the list of one-liners is humorous and hope you smiled at one of them at least.

Happy writing!